Recent events in Afghanistan, and books I have read recently caused me to do some research into the CIA and the American intelligence services in general. Some things that I discovered:-
Part of the CIA's current briefing is that it should act as a mechanism to implement policy. This mostly involves a department called the "Directorate of Operations." This is a small group that organizes, funds and directs special operations against targeted countries and organizations. As has become well known, sometimes the CIA's interpretation of this and its methods differ from what the elected policy maker expected.
You do get CIA controlling special forces and other military units, and like the movies, they have no qualms about abandoning them to save embarrassment.
The CIA is not the main HUMINT gathering agency of the US.
The US "intelligence community" is regarded as having no less than thirteen agencies.
As has been described to me:- "The US Intelligence Community (IC) has 13 member agencies. Of the 13, eight are DOD activities. There are three important agencies under the operational control of the Department of Defense:
1) The National Imagery & Mapping Agency (NIMA) which absorbed the: a) Defense Mapping Agency (DMA), b) Central Imagery Office (CIO), c) Defense Dissemination Program Office (DDPO) d) National Photographic Interpretation Center (NPIC) (Formerly of the CIA)
AND the imagery exploitation, dissemination and processing elements of the:
2) The National Security Agency (NSA) including the US Central Security Service (CSS)
3) The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) including the Defense HUMINT Service (DHS) and the: a) Defense Intelligence Analysis Center (DIAC) b) Armed Forces Medical Intelligence Center (AFMIC), c) Missile and Space Intelligence Center (MSIC)"
One can't help but think that maybe this duplication of efforts is not a good thing and it would be prudent if all of the intelligence gathering tentacles flowed into one brain.
What I suggest is to rationalize the system in the following fashion.
USMC, USAF, Army and Naval intelligence combine into a single Military intelligence force, containing members of all services and including departments specializing in airborne, maritime, land and amphibious matters.
Criminal intelligence will be the responsibility of the FBI, but this will absorb several other departments such as the DEA and BAFT.
Most of the other agencies will form components of a new "Arm of Strategic Intelligence" (ASI). The various agencies such as the CIA, NIMA, NSA etc will form the equivalent of branches of service or regiments within the ASI. This will mean a loss of autonomy for the current heads of agencies, but since these will be promoted to be "Director-Generals" of the ASI this will be a small price.
Certain branches of the ASI, such as the security force may be uniformed. For these units I suggest the same style of service dress as used by the US army and USAF, but Grey in colour.
How will this work? Rather than joining an agency directly, one would join the ASI and then be posted to an agency after basic training and aptitude tests. The main job of the ASI is the gathering and processing of intelligence. Implementation of policy and negotiation of deals and treaties will be the job of other departments such as the Diplomatic corps. There may be times when more direct action is required. In such a case there will be two possibilities:-
The mission and all relevant information is handed over to the appropriate military arm.
The ASI uses its own security wing or Direct Action Teams. The latter will be ASI agents with military training, and will be used in situations when the approach to the target must be made by covert means such as false identities.